Polo, No Stranger To Danger
By Ron Allen
Any equestrian sport would make the Top 10 danger list because riding horses is more risky than riding motorcycles. Thirty million Americans ride horses but only three thousand of them are involved in polo and ninety percent are amateur players who can create their own danger because they are poor riders sometimes riding on horses that may put themselves, as well as other players, at an even greater risk.
The high goal professional player risks injury 8 per 1,000 hours of playing time, 39% of which are fractures. The professional is also at risk of losing a paycheck for six weeks or longer during his recovery time. While low goal, amateur, players are at a much greater risk, one for every 100 hours of playing time. The concussion rate is at 10% for both groups. Three of every five equestrian deaths are the result of brain injuries.
Hockey, football and rugby have much high injury rates. Auto racing has made major strides toward advances in safety technology along with major improvements on the track and within the car itself. The injury rate has been dramatically reduced to one per 1,000 hours of track time with the 31% of drivers suffering from neck injuries.
Bull riders take a lot of punishment trying to stay on for just eight seconds. Knee and shoulder injuries are most common in this rough and tumble event with the risk of death always looming.
The other high-risk adventures are football, skiing, cycling plus a host of other X-Game type activities in which participants are constantly on the edge of an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital. Medical statistics show that emergency room visits from polo players are very rare compared to even cheerleader accidents. But, you have to consider that only 1 in every 80,000 Americans plays polo compared to the horde of three million cheerleaders.
While there is no question that polo, by its very nature, can be very dangerous. However, it’s the inexperienced, over confident, player and the over rated beginner who often puts himself or herself in the wrong place at the wrong time.